St. John’s Lutheran School to close

DOVER — Last Sunday the St, John’s Lutheran Church congregation voted to shutter its school at the end of its 19th year.

A dwindling number of students ultimately forced the upcoming closure — the kindergarten through eighth grade school had approximately 26 students each of the past two years, down from a peak of around 100 just prior to the recession in 2008.

“There was a lot of discussion and the vote to close was made on the basis of the financial strain due to continued low enrollment,” said Dr. Dina C. Vendetti, the school’s only principal throughout its nearly two decade existence.

Marketing efforts and recruiting drives did not raise enrollment enough to continue operations, Dr. Vendetti said.

Principal Dina C. Vendetti

Dr. Vendetti met with small groups of students to discuss the decision this week, counseling them that “It’s OK to feel a lot of things. It’s OK to be sad and a little concerned about where they will go to school next year and if they need to talk to us we’re here.”

The principal assured students that “all the wonderful things the school does in the spring will still happen, including the school play, field trips and more.”

The children must find new schools next year, but as Dr. Vendetti told them, “All of the things they carry in their hearts they learned at St. John’s. They will take that wherever they go.”

The approximately 17-member pre-kindergarten and K-8 school and staff will be impacted as well.

“They are sad to see it come to an end,” Dr. Vendetti said. “They are beginning to think about where they’re going to work next year. We’re all having to think of the future.”

Known for its community service projects and local outreach, St. John’s continues to march steadily towards its $2,100 goal fundraising goal to support a family’s month-long stay at the Ronald McDonald house for ailing children requiring medical services at area hospitals. The students raised $600 in two collections by doing chores and asking for donations, and hope to reach the goal by Easter.

“The school’s impact has come through raising a generation of people who understand the importance of serving the community and creating ones who will stand up and do the right thing,” Ms. Vendetti said earlier as rumors of a closure continued.

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